Another AIB Diary...


Hi all,

Following my previous post about the SIFT I decided to do an AIB diary as well. Reading other people's experiences helped me anyway.

Apologies for the changing tone throughout, I wrote this over about four evenings...

Day 1:


Aim to get there early, lunch isn’t great but it's a good chance to meet your board. Also you’ll want time to put your stuff in your cabin, sign the forms and relax. If you arrive between 1200 and 1230 you will feel rushed. Most people on our day arrived around 1100.
There were two boards at my AIB, 8 people in all, applying for various roles.

Welcome brief:
The Lt will come in and explain the purpose of the AIB, they’ll give you some advice, the most important being to relax and be yourself.
It was also highlighted by the Lt that in the essay it’s important to answer the question they give you, not the question you want to see (more on that later).

PLT brief and practice:
You then get taken over to the hanger for the PLT practice. The staff will show you all the securing methods and techniques for building bridges etc. You’ll then get a chance to have a go yourself at all the dry techniques.

If you are unsure about anything this is the time to ask, because you won’t get another chance.

You’ll then get to practice swinging across the wet tank, both alone and as a pair. Try not to fall in, though it is hilarious for everyone else if you do...

There will be 5 or so topics on a range of issues, from military to social issues. There will be something for everyone. It’s really important to read and answer the question!

For example if the question is “Should the Royal Navy maintain a nuclear submarine fleet?”, that is not the same as “Should the RN scrap Trident?” or “Should the RN get rid of its submarines?”. Consider that you could replace the SSNs with SSKs (diesel submarines), which are very quiet and capable in shallow waters, but that diesel subs wouldn’t be able to carry Trident missiles, or stay underwater for as long as nuclear boats, ethics of nuclear power etc. etc.

Regardless of the question write a plan, stick to a simple structure (Intro, For, Against, For, Against, Conclusion), and check your spelling. There is a spellchecker but it might not warn you that you put Witch instead of Which.

You’ll have 45 mins and staff will call out at 15 min intervals and when there is 5 mins left. When the last 15 mins are called I recommend you write your conclusion, then come back and finish the rest after.

Read up on current affairs, navy news and do a few timed essays. Here are some practice titles I used when preparing:

Should the UK conduct airstrikes in Syria?
Should British police be routinely armed with guns?
Should the EU have its own army?
Should the EU resettle migrants from Syria?
Are unmanned systems the future of the Royal Navy?

You’ll then sit down and listen to a CD that briefs you about the Planex. Then you’ll read a very basic scenario and have 7.5 mins to plan in silence. Turn over, read the problem, 7.5 minutes to discuss with your team and come up with aims and a plan.

I am almost tempted to believe it’s designed to lure you into a false sense of security before the literal bloodbath that is the PLANEX proper…

After all that we went to the waiting room and practiced PLT techniques and commands before dinner.
After dinner we went down to the pub, it is a bit of a walk but highly worth it to get some fresh air and a pint. Really use this chance to bond with your board, we all got on really well and it can only help with what's to come…
Get back before 2300 when shore leave ends. I’d left my window open so my room was mozzie central and I spent so much time trying to murder them all I barely got any sleep.

To be continued...



Day 2:

At 0615 the wake up call will sound, basically whatever amazing music the staff decide to pump through the speakers. I’d aim to get up before then though as there are only four showers on the men’s floor and the cleaners came in at 0630 and blocked the bathroom off.

Breakfast at 0645 then back and into your kit for the next activity. It might be PLTs or PLANEX.

You’ll be put in a small room with your board and given 15 mins to read the scenario and take notes in silence. I read it once to get the whole picture then took notes, you will get to look at your notes when planning with your team, but not when answering questions so personally I spent more time reading and absorbing than taking notes. But it’s up to you and how you take in information. I do suggest you get down distances, fuel consumption, speed affecting factors etc. because those will be useful when calculating routes in the planning stage without having to go through the main text again.

Then comes the group planning stage. You’ll be sat in front of your assessors and given a problem. You’ll then have 15 mins to come up with a plan with your team.

I suggest you set out your aims, “Our primary aim should be to give first aid to Mr White” etc, then create a plan around them. Try to let everyone talk, speak clearly and loudly, but without shouting. Make sure you get your ideas heard and be sure to contribute.

When they call 5 mins you really need to get you plan nailed down solid. Finalise your aims and plan, calculate your travel times and when things will occur if you can.

You’ll be asked if you agree with your team’s aims and plans. All but one of us said yes.

Now it’s quiz time. The Lt will grill you individually in a random order for about 5 mins each, but they will direct incorrectly answered questions to others so be prepared. Best advice is to think before you answer, and if you don’t know just say so. I blurted out the wrong answer a couple of times and it feels horrible, try not to think about it and focus on the next one.
During the questioning they will lead you in certain directions and try to get you to think about changing your plan, but these might not always be the best options.
Speed distance time questions were of mixed difficulty but they are extended, for example “So you set out immediately and your 4x4 travels across the forest to the fort, how fast can you drive in the forest?” then “How far is it to the fort” then “When do you arrive at your destination?” then “How much fuel have you used?”. It looks easy now but at the time it's hard because you need to remember all the factors and string them together.

Once that's done you go back to the waiting room. Individually you go and present you aims and plan in two minutes using the map and the pointer. You can stick with your team’s plan, incorporate ideas that came up in the question stage or do your own thing entirely. They don’t ask any questions during this stage.

In my opinion this is the best bit of the whole day. You get 15 mins to plan your task on paper in silence then it's out for the leaderless task.

You all get a card for 30s to read then it's straight in there. Be loud and always be doing something, even if it's looking and checking everything is secured properly. If you have an idea say it super loud so the board can hear. We completed our task in time which was good.

Here is something which has changed from previous advice I’ve seen: Don’t congratulate each other loudly once finished, no hugs or shoulder claps, you will be told to shut up. I guess they got sick of everyone being all super enthusiastic…

When it is your turn to lead you will be given your paper plan so you can review it for 30s. Then brief your team. You have 8 minutes and it will fly by. Be loud, confident, accept useful ideas, direct your team and stay calm.

Psychometric Tests:
After the PLTs it’s a round robin of numerical, verbal, and abstract reasoning tests. You will have your interview mixed in depending on your candidate number: No. 1 has their interview first, No. 4 has theirs last.

Best advice is just to practice these kinds of tests on the internet, they’re easy points. Don’t worry if you don’t finish all the questions in the time allowed, most of us didn’t.

The big one. The final hurdle.

I’ll admit I was looking forward to it, this is the big chance to sell yourself and prove to them you actually want to join the Royal Navy.

First you’ll sit down with a senior member of the staff and just have a quick friendly chat in the waiting room. Then you go in and take a seat in front of your board.

Here are some of the questions I was asked:
  • Tell us who you are in two minutes?
  • Why do you want to join the Royal Navy?
  • What is your training pipeline?
  • Where would you like to be in ten years?
  • What is your ultimate ambition for your career?
  • Why do you want to be an Officer?
  • What is the difference between the role of an Officer and a Senior Rating?
  • You’ve just been posted as a Divisional Officer and one of your Junior Rates comes to you. His partner just left him. What do you do?
  • When have you been angry?
  • When have you shown empathy?
  • When have you led a team?
  • When have you made a difficult decision?
  • When have you demonstrated commitment?
  • When have you experienced hardship?
  • What do you do in your spare time?
  • Where are we in the world? Why are we there?
  • What are future challenges for the Royal Navy?
  • What time do you expect to get in your run? (They’ll make a note, be realistic!)
There are many more, and often these questions will have an immediate follow on question. But it is relaxed if you let it be. Be honest, they don’t want the textbook answer, they want you!

The biggest question is “Why do you want to join?”. Don’t be surprised if they dig deeper into your answer to get at the heart of your motivations. They want you to be there for the right reasons afterall.

It will be over before you know it, and that’s it. Job done!

2.4km (1.5mi) run:
Into your running gear and down to the football pitch. It’s 8 times around, plus 100m or so. Give it your best effort, sprint the finish if you can. It’s all about showing your motivation.

It is a pass or fail assessment, so if you don’t make the time you will fail the AIB.

In candidate order you go in, one at a time, and find out from your Board President how you did.

You’ll be told if you’ve been selected or not, and how good your pass was if so.
You will also get feedback, if you did very well in your PLT they will tell you, and vice versa.

Go tell reception your result, fill in your feedback form, celebrate with your fellow candidates and go home!

Final Hints & Tips:
  • Be yourself!
  • Keep calm. If something goes wrong in the PLT or PLANEX just focus on moving forwards. Same goes for the whole AIB actually...
  • Get to the AIB building early. 1100 to 1130 is a good time range.
  • Really get to know your board, the better you work together the better you all do.
  • Practice interview questions with friends and family.
  • Practice timed essays and psychometric tests.
  • Read a few PLANEXES to get used to the format.
  • Keep up to date on current affairs, deployments and operations.
  • Rest as much as you can immediately before and during the AIB. If you’re cramming the night before you’re doing it wrong. Sleep will serve you better.
  • Bring snacks and cash. Lunch isn’t exactly big.
  • Loads of really useful advice can be found in the AIB sticky thread.
The AIB is tough, but in the end I enjoyed it. It’s over so quickly but every minute of preparation is worth it.

I did pass, and hopefully I’ll get January entry. The selection board sits in November.

Let me know if you have any questions, I’ll try to help as much as I can!

Good luck guys!


War Hero
A good insight. Stickied.

For those that follow, when posting these incredibly useful diaries, do remember for Officer - selection is merit based, so don't give too much away with regard specific content. That is to say, someone could pass AIB after you and be selected ahead of you for the same job and there are a finite number of jobs.


Lantern Swinger
I have just started the officer application process, forms have been submitted. I can only find my scanned copies of my exam results. Is this good enough or do they at some stage wish to see the actual hard copies. Current cost is £35 per exam so I don't want to order and pay for them if they're not needed. Cheers


Just a quick one, the question:
  • Where are we in the world? Why are we there?
What are they actually looking for? Was it asked in context? It is a very broad qquestion or are they looking at how you percieve it?



Lantern Swinger
Just a quick one, the question:
  • Where are we in the world? Why are we there?
What are they actually looking for? Was it asked in context? It is a very broad qquestion or are they looking at how you percieve it?


It's a question, answer it. Sounds like a simple one of "have you read Navy News and a few papers? Where's the RN currently active and why?" if it's in context of "which ships are currently announced as being where?"

Or explore it - ask "who do you mean by 'we' and where is 'there'?" (sorry, longtime systems engineer thinking) but that may be a bit too philosophical. (Like Douglas Adams' joke about the person at a party who accidentally asked a legendary philosopher "Why are you here?" and the answer took three weeks)


Just a quick one, the question:
  • Where are we in the world? Why are we there?
What are they actually looking for? Was it asked in context? It is a very broad qquestion or are they looking at how you percieve it?


I was asked this question with the prefix "Using the world map mounted on the wall, please show us...", which should make the context much clearer!

As part of your AIB prep you should confidently know the standing commitments and have a good idea which ships are currently on each of them (although open-source info on this is often a month or two out of date), so it's an easy box to tick.


Standing commitments?
Is this in regards to SNTG1 and SNMCMG1 in Norway doing cold weather exs. And kiel doing mine countermeasure exs.... Yes that is the latest info I have.... But probably happened a few months ago. XD

I also have Iron Duke and Ramsey deployed with each group, could anybody confirm that as I do feel my sources may be outdated somewhat.


War Hero
all I can suggest is you get the plan of what is going to happen over the 2 days... Use that to:
prepare, prepare and prepare some more

when you are there, read/listen to the instructions given. Not what you think you may have read/heard but exactly what is given

then, give it everything. Be loud, confident and your preparation will (hopefully) see you through

it becomes a bit of a blur afterwards but an exhilarating process all the same

good luck
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